From movie nights to field day, an entirely in-person fall 2021 orientation is almost underway, including a wide array of events for new first-years and transfer students.
Orientation, also known as O-week, is a welcoming period between Aug. 21 to Aug. 25 for new members of the Cornell community, where students can meet one another and get to know Cornell’s campus and culture.
This year, approximately 250 events are planned for incoming students. Participants choose their own schedule through the New Student Orientation website — selecting optional events such as tours, showcases and opportunities to socialize, alongside required college and University programs.
The orientation steering committee, in charge of planning and coordinating orientation events, has been planning for the fall semester since January. The group originally anticipated a hybrid model but shifted plans after the University gave them the green light to hold an in-person orientation, said steering committee co-chairs La’Treil Jackson ’22 and Jennifer Grell ’22.
Grell said last year’s Zoom orientation events had low turnout. Now, even with the indoor mask mandate and social distancing, she is looking forward to working an in-person O-week with over 4,000 new students. The University moved to allow in-person events mid-March.
“This is my third orientation as an orientation volunteer of some kind. And it’ll be the only one that’s ever been in person. The other two have been on Zoom,” Grell said. “I’m really excited to see what in-person programming is like from the back end of it.”
This year, the committee reshaped its model of the orientation leader groups — cohorts of anywhere from 10 to 25 students led by an OL. Previously, the groups were split between new students and transfers and divided by college. The committee decided to mix students from different colleges so they can learn more about the University more broadly.
“We decided to take the academic element out of it, and use orientation and your orientation group as a way to meet students from other colleges and leave the academic portion up to the academic colleges and advisers,” Grell said.
Jackson and Grell said recruiting orientation leaders was not easy this year, ultimately leaving them short staffed. While the chairs do not usually ask members of the committee to become OLs, they encouraged “all hands of deck.”
“I think the Class of 2024 didn’t feel inspired to become orientation leaders just because they had a poor experience on Zoom,” Grell said. “We completely understand that, and hopefully in the future we can make up for it.”
Jackson said that it is out of the committee’s hands to do programming for the Class of 2024 and other remote students who had an online orientation, there will be other University-sponsored programming for incoming sophomores.
The Class of 2024 has been invited to the New Student Convocation on Aug. 25, where President Martha Pollack will give an official welcome to both the Class of 2025 and the Class of 2024 at Schoellkopf Field. The University has also planned a Class of 2024 meet-up before the Homecoming fireworks at Lynah Lot.
The College of Arts and Sciences is hosting a welcome hub for all class years in Klarman Hall from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21, and the School of Hotel Administration is hosting a welcome back event at Peter Plaza at the Statler Hotel.